Marcus Rashford scores! Summer free school meals announced for 1.3m students
An estimated 1.3m children in England will be given free school meal vouchers throughout the summer, after pressure from Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
Students on the free school meals programme will receive vouchers for the six-week break and they will be worth £15 per child a week, which is in line with existing support.
The scheme is expected to cost £120m and represents a U-turn from the government’s position yesterday.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Rashford tweeted.
“Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”
It comes after Rashford, 22, began a campaign just days ago to call for underprivileged students to continue receive free school meals during the coronavirus crisis.
He ratcheted it up with a column in The Times today, writing that he was “clued up on the difference a U-turn decision would make on the 1.3 million vulnerable children across the UK who are registered for free school meals because ten years ago I was one of them”.
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He added: “Today I am asking that all MPs put their rivalries aside and stand in solidarity on an issue that could prove detrimental to the stability of families across the country for generations to come.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a group of journalists that Johnson had decided to make the call at today’s cabinet meeting.
“Owing to the coronavirus, the Prime Minister fully understands children and parents face an unprecedented situation over the summer,” he said.
“To reflect this we will be providing a Covid summer food fund. This will provide food vouchers covering the 6 week holiday period.
“The scheme will not continue beyond this summer and those eligible will be those already qualified for free school meals.”
He also paid tribute to Rashford, saying the Prime Minister “welcomes his contribution to the debate around poverty and respect the fact he’s been using his profile as a leading sportsman to highlight important issues”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the policy U-turn.
“The thought of 1.3 million children going hungry this summer was unimaginable,” he said.
“Well done to March Rashford and many others who spoke out so powerfully about this issue.”